Cut to half a decade back.
It’s a charcoal-scarred sky this morning. Ominous cumulonimbus clouds reign the heavens.
A desultory drizzle pitter-patters with monotonous persistence.
S is off to the market, his ritualistic weekend visit, therapeutic as he claims, without which his weekend is not deemed complete.
I stand by the window, the wind playing with my curls, watching a world in monochrome go by.
The bell rings.
Guess what I found at the vegetable market today, S asks. Excitement stark in his voice.
And without waiting for my response, digs into his bajarer thole and theatrically pulls out, as a magician would a bunny from his wonder- sack, a gorgeous green kakrol, the stalk still intact.
Kakrol. I burst out, ecstatic.
Kakrol was available in prolific abundance in Assam, appearing in markets around Holi and disappearing just before the Pujas, (and yes that’s how the vegetable calendar was remembered, made to coincide with primary festivals).
Though I have really not seen this understated gourd in the other cities I have lived since. Sigh !!
So what shall be on the menu this morning ? S enquires.
And almost as an afterthought adds, I do want my kakrol bhaja please to savour with dal. And maybe one of the days, I shall make motor dal with kakrol.
Do you not like Kakrol Pur ? I ask.
Kakrol Pur ? He exclaims. Surprise studded on his face. Haven’t had that one.
It’s a Sylheti delicacy, I explain. Let me make the vegetarian version for lunch.
The Kakrol Pur I go about to prepare becomes a super-hit.
Kakrol Pur. Gorgeous kakrol. A tear-jerking spicy stuffing of poppy-seed and mustard paste. Grated coconut to pacify the heat. Dipped in a batter and fried to a gorgeous golden.
A must-try before the season runs out.
Kakrol Pur (Stuffed Teasel Gourd, Bengali Style)
- 4 kakrol or teasel gourd
- 2 tbsp posto or poppy seeds
- 2 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 1/3 cup coconut freshly grated
- 2-3 green chilies
- 1-2 green chilies finely chopped
- 1/4 cup coriander leaves finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp mustard oil
- salt to taste
For the batter
- 1/2 cup besan or bengal gram flour
- 1/4 cup rice flour
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- oil for deep frying
- Soak the poppy seeds and mustard seeds in warm water, 15 odd minutes or so. Drain and keep aside.
- Lightly scrape each kakrol, trim both the ends and halve longitudinally.
- Simmer the kakrol halves in a pot of boiling water with a little salt, 5-7 minutes I would reckon, till the kakrol becomes tender, yet remains firm.
- Gently scoop out the flesh with a spoon, taking utmost care to keep the outer case intact.
- Grind the scooped out kakrol flesh with the poppy seeds, mustard seeds and 2-3 green chilies with just a splash of water to make a smooth paste.
- Heat oil in a pan, add the paste, sprinkle in a little salt, throw in the finely chopped green chilies, cook over a low flame till the ‘pur’ (stuffing) is cooked and no longer sticks to the pan.
- Add the freshly grated coconut, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Adjust seasonings, finish off with the chopped coriander leaves.
- Allow the ‘pur’ to cool to room temperature. Using a tea spoon, gently fill the ‘pur’ inside the kakrol cases as shown in the picture.
- In a bowl, mix the gram flour, rice flour, salt, turmeric powder and water to make a thick batter. Make sure there are no lumps.
- Heat oil for frying.
- Dip the stuffed kakrol in the batter, fry till a golden brown on all the sides. Keep aside on a kitchen absorbent towel.
- Serve hot.